Current Reviews


X-Men Manifest Destiny #1

Posted: Tuesday, September 2, 2008
By: Christopher Power

Mike Carey, James Asmus, C.B. Cebulski
Michael Ryan, Chris Burnham, David Yardin
Marvel Comics
Editor's Note: X-Men Manifest Destiny #1 arrives in stores Thursday, September 4.

Similar to "Divided we Stand" (DWS), "Manifest Destiny" (MD) is intended to follow the careers of specific X-Men as they begin their new lives. It reads like a bookend to "Divided We Stand", where in DWS the X-Men attempted to find their place in a shattered world, MD intends to explain how the X-Men have adjusted to their new place. The change is substantial: they have a new home, a safe home, lots of financing and a new mantra to protect and defend all mutants, friends or enemies.

Opening comments for this issue: there three stories, and none of them have titles. There is no clear idea as to when any of these events happen in the timeline. Spoilers will be ample in this one, as it is hard to give a complete review without them, so read on at your own risk.

Story 1:
Writer: Mike Carey
Artist Michael Ryan (p), Victor Olazaba (i), Chris Sotomayor (c)

Mike Carey has learned from the mistakes of "DWS"; he starts off the book with a famous, recognizable X-Man. Bobby Drake, Iceman, is once again losing control of his powers. This happens as he is hanging out with a young woman from his past. As Bobby travels to the Beast to get himself checked out, we find out that it is in fact Mystique, once again posing as someone innocuous, who is messing with Bobby somehow. She blows up yet another Blackbird, and Bobby crashes into the side of a mountain. Things are changing for our young X-Man, and he is finally becoming much more powerful.

The art, delivered by Michael Ryan and team, is solid, with inks from Olazaba and colours from Sotomayor making the images jump off the page. I do wish that the scenes with the ice were a little more distinct, in particular in the Blackbird.

Story 2
Writer: James Asmus
Artist: Chris Burnham, Nathan Fairbarren (colors)

Here we meet up with none other than Tabitha "Boom-Boom" Smith. I did not even know that she was still alive in the Marvel Universe, let alone that she still has powers! I am rather shocked in all truth; X-Men mainstays like Jubilee lost their powers, but Meltdown did not? No way! She's a hardcore mutant still? Wow. I am still at a loss for words, but I can mimic the childlike tone of this story, where Meltdown is portrayed as a valley-girl.

This story establishes that Boom-Boom will be an X-Men mainstay for a while in San Francisco, and establishes her fun, free spirit attitude for the readers. Unfortunately, the story does not do much other than that.

Burnham's pencils are reminiscent of Amanda Conner, but there are some strange things that happen in this book with the art. Tabby's outfit changes from a short dress to a negligee; we had some pretty strange views of the human body contorting as the heroine collapses to the ground, and people's faces range all over the place.

Story 3
Writer: C.B. Cebulski
Artist: David Yardin, John Rauch and Nathan Fairbarren (colors)

Karma. We have a story about Karma. Moonstar has lost her powers, but Karma is still around. This is another questionable choice by the editors in my opinion. More importantly, this story goes nowhere fast. We are supposed to care about Karma, and how she is struggling. However, to paraphrase a quote from the previous story: she leader of the New Mutants! She was a teacher at Xavier's! She has control of her powers. She is a long term X-Men soldier, and this was apparent in Secret Invasion and in Uncanny X-Men #501. Why is this story acting like she doesn't know what she is doing? Also re-established is that she is still looking after her siblings, which is never really explained. A new reader is left with the impression that the children are Karma's, not her siblings.
Review de-briefing: While these are nice stories, there are several factors that were very distracting to me.

First of all, in three issues of his own title, Wolverine tracks down and leaves Mystique to die during the aftermath of "Messiah CompleX." Apparently, she walked out of the desert and did not choose to shoot herself. I am not really shocked, but more than a month without her messing with the X-Men would have been nice to add some weight to her re-appearance. This combined with the strange appearance of Karma as a newbie struggling to control her powers, and the visible giant Sentinel statue (from Uncanny #500) in the background of one scene, leaves us with a real loss of time for this issue.

Second, there are serious problems with presentation of the characters. Bobby Drake comes across as a bit of a whiner, instead of the leader he was becoming before DWS. Boom-Boom and Karma, both seem to have not aged in the last 20 years of comics, despite the much older appearance and attitudes of the X-Men in Uncanny and other books. The real problem I had with this was that Karma's siblings are also not aging in the Marvel Universe. They should, at least, be pre-teen.

Art is a serious problem in the book. The second and third stories had major issues with faces and anatomy, and, more importantly, the art was entirely inconsistent between the three stories.

Finally, I am at a loss as to what this book is trying to accomplish. If it was trying to fill in the holes between DWS and Uncanny X-Men #500, that would be fine, but it is not doing that. It seems to be just introducing new readers to the players in the X-world. That is okay, but why not do that in the ump-teen X-Men books on the stands?

Overall, I have trouble recommending this book. It is not horrible. In fact, there are some fun moments. However, they are just too few and far between to warrant the money you have to spend to get this book off the shelf.

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